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NCJ Number: 78864 Find in a Library
Title: Has Justice a Fairer Future in China?
Journal: ASIA  Dated:(January/February 1979)  Pages:3-7
Author(s): J A Cohen
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 5
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article describes efforts of the post-Mao leadership to give some rights to the accused and to move toward other legal reforms in the People's Republic of China.
Abstract: Public trials have been one aspect of a comprehensive campaign by China's Government to restore the morale and productivity of the articulate segments of the population. Although these proceedings are probably rehearsed to ensure a smooth performance, they demonstrate that the State has notified the accused of the charges, presented evidence, allowed some time for rebuttal, and outlined reasons for a judgment. The People's Republic tried to develop a legal system in the years following the revolution, but these activities were cut short by the 1957-58 antirightist movement and the Cultural Revolution. When Mao died in 1976, China had no lawyers and few judges. No significant legislation had been passed for a decade, and all judicial decisions had to be cleared with the Party. The new leadership promulgated a Constitution in 1978 which resurrected the rights of the accused to make a defense and have a public trial but still considered the judiciary as subordinate to the Party. Currently, a person accused of a serious crime is detained and cut off from all outside contacts while the police investigations and interrogations are conducted. There is no presumption of innocence, and prisoners are frequently abused by their jailers and other cellmates. The Chinese are aware that this process increases the likelihood of eliciting false confessions but feel that on the balance this approach is more likely to achieve accurate results than more public procedures. Party ideology contends that no fundamental inconsistencies exist between the interests of the State and the people and therefore a suspect needs no protection. This attitude reflects the dynamics of the Chinese family structure as well as practices of the predecessor Manchu system. China will have to educate personnel to establish a more formal legal system and could encounter opposition from Party bureaucrats, but these reforms are needed to reenlist the loyalty of the elite. No references are cited.
Index Term(s): China; Cultural influences; Law reform; Police-offender relations; Political influences; Right to Due Process; Rights of the accused; Trial procedures
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